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TÜV RHEINLAND

TÜV Rheinland: Did the Kids that Get a Place in P1 with STEM Toys?

2019-06-13 16:58
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HONG KONG--()--A new batch of tiger moms and dads have already started their preparations for their children now in kindergarten. The interview questions for primary one have become increasingly challenging in recent years. From general knowledge to science, from logical thinking to handiness, from language expression to social skills... How can a child "win on the starting line"? This is what STEM tools that incorporate multiple disciplines. Their selling of point "helping children obtain knowledge through plain" is exactly what anxious tiger moms and dads are looking for.

1 "Tiger Moms and Dads" Created the STEM Toy Market

STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Simply put, all toys that can help children learn and understand these four disciplines can be considered STEM toys. Such is the popularity of STEM that it rapidly proliferated across the globe and has now reached China. Take Lego for example - the financial reports show that Lego's revenues and profits both grew at the same rate in 2018, with most of the growth coming from the US and China.

On one side, STEM toys are now all the rage, and on the other side we have the market for traditional toys that is now on the wane. Traditional manufacturers are now going through a transformation and upgrade process to align themselves with STEM toys. How can they break into this market quickly?

2 Users Often Overlook Safety When Picking STEM Toys

A census conducted by TÜV Rheinland at top global toy fairs including "New York Toy Fair 2019" found that unlike traditional toy markets, users tend to focus exclusively on the message of "STEM concepts " and overlook the importance of some universal requirements like "toy safety" . At the same time, an increasing number of parents, social influencers or celebrities have started recommending STEM toys for children of all age groups. The overwhelming barrage of information turned the most important thing into a consumer blind spot.

There is absolutely no question that while "mind-building" , "fun" and "flexibility" all give STEM toys an advantage, "safety" must remain the first priority. Don't underestimate the importance of "safety" either. Today's STEM toys contain a number of potential hazards that should not be ignored. In addition to obvious hazards such as electric shock and choking on small toy parts, there are also some safety issues that you might not even think of. For example, if a toy product for elder kids are sold to a younger child, even if playing with a STEM toy that is well beyond their age group will stimulate the child's curiosity, it can also lead to some safety problems. When it comes to safety, traditional toy manufacturers have a well-organized manufacturing process and supply chain as well as a more rigorous testing and certification process. The edge for traditional toy manufacturers should be therefore the production of "safety certified" STEM toys.

3 Who Can Balance Children's Curiosity and Safety

Wice Wang, Senior Manager, Toy, Softlines for TÜV Rheinland Greater China, said:

“Striking a balance between curiosity and safe play is the key to encourage life-long learning in children. It is also the key of design and manufacturing for STEM and all toys.”

According to the "Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance," it is illegal to manufacture, import or supply of unsafe toys or children's products in Hong Kong. All toys and their packaging must conform to one of the three toy safety standards in the ordinance. The three standards are ICTI, EN71 and ASTMF963. All of these three standards cover safety testing of toys' physical, mechanical, chemical and flammable properties.

A number of toy safety standards have been released by nearly 40 countries including the U.S., Japan and the E.U in recent years. The Consumer Product Safety Act and the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in the U.S., the RoHS Directive implemented by the EU on July 1, 2006, as well as the REACH directive that took effect in all member states on June 1, 2007, all raised the par for toy safety and quality.

These safety standards increased the entry threshold for the toy market. They also made it harder to produce and place toys into the market. Companies invest more to meet the export standards. They also turned to professional third-party testing, inspection and certification bodies for their support.

An example of this is the TÜV Rheinland Toy Proof Mark. Product quality is crucial to product success in the increasingly competitive Chinese toy market. The Toy Proof Mark shows that their products fulfill the requirements of China's importation and trading laws.

STEM toys and smart toys may also violate children's privacy. Children don't understand that STEM toys with a connectivity function may compromise their personal data. In 2018, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused VTech, a maker of electronic toys, of collecting personal data from hundreds of thousands of children. Groups have reported that a popular children's tablet from Amazon shared private information collected without the parents' permission with third parties for advertising use. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) now covers smart toys in the U.S. In Europe, the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), touted as the "strictest data protection law in history," had a positive effect on the data security and privacy of connected toys. Through in-depth research and more than two decades of experience in the information security field, TÜV Rheinland has now developed world-leading technical standards that provide global enterprises with product privacy protection assessment and product penetration testing services. These services help businesses control and minimize risks on data protection.

The product privacy assessment service can help businesses identify compliance risks in smart products and mobile applications. A professional assessment report is provided to satisfy EU's regulatory requirements and buyers' needs. The service also provides case studies and guidance for new product R&D and helps manufacturers provide a quality user experience; the product penetration testing report provides a direct measure of the product's standard of safety to help businesses avoid the massive and irreversible losses associated with data leaks. TÜV Rheinland will continue to apply its professional expertise for the toy industry to compete in the global market.

 

Contacts

Simon Hung
T: 21921948
Simon.hung@tuv.com